Luca Brecel booked his spot in the final of UK Championship before revealing that he was stuck in his rented toilet and almost missed his fourth round match against Anthony Hamilton.
The Belgian swept in four centuries plus two more breaks of more than 80 to defeat Kyren Wilson 6-4 and will now face the Chinese rising star Zhao Xintong, who beat the former world finalist Barry Hawkins 6-1, in the final. If Brecel overcomes Zhao the 26-year-old will become the first player from continental Europe to secure a “triple crown” title.
However, he admitted he was reduced to panic earlier in the week when he struggled to escape from the bathroom of his apartment in York. Brecel stated that he was locked out of his apartment by closing the door [of the toilet].. I didn’t know how I could open the door so I thought, “Oh God, I’m locked inside .’
” I had to play Anthony Hamilton so it was a little worried.” I was in there for 10 minutes. It felt like I was there for two hours. It was a worry that I wouldn’t be able to see Hamilton. It was 20 minutes past 12 and it was a 10-minute walk to the venue. I had to get up quickly. But I beat him 6-1 anyway so I could have stayed there for longer.”
Brecel, the youngest player to reach the world championship at the Crucible in 2012, set about the biggest match of his career against Wilson in stunning fashion, opening with a 130 clearance and going back in front with his second century after Wilson had responded with a 121. After attempting to score a third century in frame four, Wilson lost to him with a split that allowed him to level at 2-2.
Wilson, strongly tipped to make his belated breakthrough at a major tournament after defeating Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last eight, edged in front for the first time by taking the fifth frame. But he could only sit and marvel at the onslaught that followed as Brecel produced his third century of the match, followed by breaks of 97 and 80, to move one frame away.
The remarkable standard continued as Wilson responded with 83 to reduce the deficit to 5-4 but, with the balls well placed after a lengthy safety exchange at the start of the 10th frame, Brecel stepped in to finish with a flourish, an outrageous cross-double red sealing a fourth century and a place in the final on Sunday.
” “It’s incredible to put up such a strong performance in such a large game,” Brecel stated. “If I play like that again in the final I don’t think I’m beatable.”
Zhao was equally comprehensive in his semi-final rout of Hawkins, firing one century and five further breaks of more than 70 as he spectacularly delivered on his potential as one of the finest prospects in the sport. Hawkins was trailing 4-0 in an hour. Although he managed to get back to 4-1, he was only prolonging the inevitable when the irresistible Zhao won his way into the major final.
“It is my first time in this final and it’s important for me to do my best,” Zhao said. He will be trying to become the first Chinese champion of the tournament since Ding Junhui, the three-time champion. “I thought I played very well, and it was an amazing match for me. Because we’re both young and have a similar style, I’m happy to play Luca in this final. I think we can make a beautiful match.”